Gregory J. Thoman passed away peacefully May 2, 2022 at the age of 69. His parents, Joseph and Adaline (Polega) Thoman, moved their handsome son to the country shortly after he was born. Greg’s real home was the forest and wetlands. At a very early age, he found his place with nature. He spent most of his spare time ‘down by the swamp’, in the woods building forts and trails, or talking to Sebastian his goat or Harvey, the crow.
He attended New Prairie and LaLumiere High Schools and went to alumni events with both schools to keep in touch with his old friends. From an early age he knew no strangers and rarely forgot one! He received undergrad degrees in biology and engineering from Indiana University and Purdue respectively and he never stopped learning and reading. He also studied to become an electrician and was a member of local union 531. He was taking either a class or teaching one for more than a third of his life.
He had a varied career in the manufacturing, hospital and utilities fields. For a period of time just prior to retirement he worked at Dunes State Park Nature Center. One of his voluntary tasks was to take children on tours of the forest and dunes and give them hands-on experience with nature. On several occasions the parents sent pictures of Greg interacting with their child to the Nature Center. Often, he got down on his knees so he could introduce them to turtles or explain a leaf structure face-to-face. It was one of his most favorite life experiences.
When he purchased a small farm from his childhood neighbor and friend, he was again close to his favorite environment...the wetlands. He would take friends ‘down to the swamp’ for long discussions on religion, nature, world events, psychology, “how-to’s” or a myriad of other subjects. It was an everyday event for him to visit the swamp by himself or with his dog, Red. The animals and birds learned to accept him. Two of his favorites were a pair of Sandhill cranes that returned each year to nest. One day their chicks (colts) strayed from Mom and Dad and came within three feet of Greg. Greg, hearing the approaching parents behind him and anticipating an attack by the male, froze in place. The male Sandhill was on one side of him and the chicks on the other. Instead of attacking Greg, the male walked slowly around him and then quickly ushered the chicks back to the swamp. All was good.
After retirement, Greg joined the LaPorte County Soil and Water Conservation Board where his knowledge and passion for preserving the land for future generations were well utilized.
Greg has great friends that, along with his family, miss him deeply While always very private, he shared his mind and his heart with those he loved. He had an unforgettable sense of humor, a deep voice that commanded respect, and a mind that reached out and touched the hearts of many. He is survived by his mother, Adaline (Polega) Thoman and his brother and sisters, John (Liz) Steichen, Paula (Stanley) Polega, and Charlene (Evan) Campbell. His father, Joseph, preceded him in death.
No service is planned. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the LaPorte County Animal Shelter.
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